toronto schools reopen

Toronto schools might drop French and shorten days to reopen in September

Elementary students could see school days shortened by nearly an hour and no more French classes as part of the Toronto District School Board's attempt to save money. 

The TDSB released a report Wednesday that says the board faces about $250 million in costs if they run with the "hybrid" system proposed by Education Minister Stephen Lecce, which would see elementary school students grouped into cohorts of 15 for both in-person and online learning this fall. 

It's one of three back-to-school scenarios being considered by the province: in-person classes with intensive health measures, strictly online classes or a mix of both. 

Nearly 1,000 additional teachers would need to be hired to accommodate the elementary cohort system, says the board, which would cost roughly $249 million. 

That whopping price tag could be reduced to around $98 million but it would see school days end 48 minutes early. 

But there still wouldn't be enough extra staff to cover French language instruction, even if the cohort cap for classes Grade 4 and above was expanded to 20 kids per class. 

It's a draft plan, but critics like the Francophonie organization Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario is calling the plan to remove French classes "shocking" and "totally unacceptable."

The TDSB is still discussing its options for how best to bring kids back to school this fall and has indicated that this cohort system (and other iterations of it) isn't the be all end all. 

According to Premier Doug Ford, the plan will likely be for students to return to school five days a week, as usual, but with health measures implemented in the building. 

The TDSB, which has seen massive budget cuts from the Ontario government, says the cost of those health measures, such as PPE, will be about $22 million for approximately four months.

High school kids could see "quadmesters" where students will enrol in two classes for 45 days straight, and decide themselves if they want to go to in-person or online classes.

As regions of Ontario move on to Stage 3, parents and students await solid news for a full-time school plan. The board says it will finalize a plan for the school year and present it to the Ministry of Education on Aug. 4. 

Lead photo by

Scott Norseworthy


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